The Baby Boomers Who Refuse to Act Their Age

Daily Mail (London), July 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Baby Boomers Who Refuse to Act Their Age


Byline: TAHIRA YAQOOB

THEIR fathers and mothers wound down gently into a quiet retirement.

But today's over-50s have no intention of following suit.

They want to go on having it all, from travelling the world to dressing like 18-year-olds and preserving their looks to help an active sex life.

These are the baby boomers, born during a population surge after the Second World War and determined to grow old disgracefully without worrying about leaving their children an inheritance.

Most of them reached adulthood - or were at a highly impressionable age - in the liberated 1960s and feel less constrained by cultural boundaries than their predecessors.

They retain many of the tastes of their youth - like 51-year-old Tony Blair who still relaxes by strumming the guitar and takes a keen interest in rock music.

Now the think-tank Demos has produced a study of the baby boomers as they head into their sixties.

They emerged as determined not to be forced into retirement, feeling they still had many productive years ahead of them. They consider old age begins at 80 rather than at 65.

They have unconventional plans for their 'golden years', rejecting gardening and caring for their grandchildren in favour of more adventurous pursuits such as going on a teen- style gap year travelling the world.

Researcher James Harkin, who studied the 'demographic blip' of postwar babies, said: 'This group is now between 39 and 59 and contemplating what it will be like to pass through the turnstile into old age.

'Many are fearful of getting old and all the attendant associations of physical and mental degeneration.

'They were adamant in their refusal to be put out to pasture. It is a paradox of our ageing society that many of us seem increasingly obsessed with the idea of youth.' The study found that the baby boomers were preoccupied with their looks. Most, particularly women, worried about the emerging signs of ageing.

Married or single, they still lead active sex lives, said Demos.

Their preferred uniform is combat trousers and trainers and they see themselves as their children's equals. While health care is important, pensions and assets are just seen as a security blanket so they can pursue more unconventional interests.

They are also more selfish, with many unconcerned about leaving an inheritance for their children.

Manufacturers and advertisers are rapidly realising the cash potential of the new breed of middle-aged men and women.

There were 19.1million people over 50 in the UK in 2000 and there will be The over-45s account for nearly 80 per cent of the country's financial wealth and are big spenders on everything from motorbikes and beauty products to pop music - over-40s buy more albums than teenagers. Demos says the 'consciously youthful and idealistic' baby boomer generation is 'simply refusing to pass on the baton of youth culture, believing that since they invented it, it remains rightfully theirs'. …

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